Healthcare is a fundamental right. I support universal coverage as a pathway to single payer coverage. Oregon has made tremendous strides with the Oregon Health Plan expansion. In Lane County alone, the rate of uninsured people dropped from 21% to 6%. We still face significant challenges within the 94% of people who are covered and the 6% who remain uncovered. For those that have coverage, we need to ensure that healthcare remains affordable. For those that lack it, we need to expand access to publicly funded insurance, and to improve reimbursements to providers for the care provided.
Once we achieve universal coverage, I believe that people and employers will see the value in expanding public insurance options on the road to single payer. Medicare and Medicaid both have high approval ratings from recipients and low costs. While expanding either program at the state level would require significant changes, that is no reason not to get to work on a solution.
I’ve seen the good that the OHP expansion can do. Volunteering in long term care facilities, I see a large number of mentally ill people who used to sleep under bridges. Now, with the expansion, many of them are receiving healthcare and housing for the first time. In addition to the obvious humanitarian advantages, we are seeing reduced costs to the system as people receive preventive care, in addition to housing and food to maintain their health.